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Constitutional Court disqualifies Move Forward MP over media shares

Tanwarin Sukkhapisit of the Move Forward Party shows the card bearing her name issued by Parliament before she has to return it to officials. (Photo from @TanwarinS_MFP Twitter account)
Tanwarin Sukkhapisit of the Move Forward Party shows the card bearing her name issued by Parliament before she has to return it to officials. (Photo from @TanwarinS_MFP Twitter account)

The Constitutional Court has disqualified an opposition lawmaker from parliament, boosting the government’s majority.

The court on Wednesday found Tanwarin Sukkhapisit — a transgender lawmaker from Move Forward party — guilty of breaking rules meant to prevent politicians from owning shares in media firms. The court also barred her from being a member of the parliament.

The court upheld the status of 29 lawmakers from ruling parties and 28 from opposition parties in Wednesday’s rulings, saying the companies in which they held shares weren’t considered firms that produce news or other media-related content.

The ruling coalition currently has about 65 more seats than the opposition in the Lower House.

Ms Tanwarin, a former film director, has worked to push for gender equality and same-sex marriage in Thailand.

In November, her party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, one of the most vocal critics of the current establishment-backed government, was also disqualified from parliament in a similar case involving media shares. He denied the charges and said the case was politically motivated.

Their party, Future Forward, was disbanded three months later for breaching financing rules. He and other party leaders were banned from politics for 10 years, while Ms Tanwarin and others were forced to move to the new Move Forward group.

The breakup of Future Forward, which won the third largest share of votes in last year’s election, started a wave of anti-government protests that have expanded in recent months. The protesters are now demanding the government’s resignation, a rewriting of the constitution, and greater transparency and accountability for the monarchy.

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